Pres. Buhari accuses the judiciary of blocking efforts to recover stolen assets


President Buhari who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at
the 2015 All Nigeria Judges’ Conference  in Abuja, yesterday said he is
disturbed that allegations of judicial corruption have become more
frequent in the country.
He accused corrupt lawyers and judges of blocking his efforts to recover stolen assets.
He said:

“Further on point of negative perception, there is both local and
international dissatisfaction with the long delays in the trial process.
In the past few years, this has become especially so for high-profile
cases of corruption, especially where they involve serving or former
political office holders.

“As my lords are undoubtedly aware, corruption transfers from public
coffers to private pockets, resources required to deliver social and
economic justice.

“Government’s attempts to recover such assets in accordance with the law
are often faced with dilatory tactics by lawyers sometimes with the
apparent collusion of judges.

“These tactics are often not directed at reaching any conclusion or
affirming innocence or guilt, but at stalling trials indefinitely, thus
denying the state and the accused person the opportunity of a judicial
verdict. I wish to echo the sentiments of the vast majority of Nigerians
in saying that we cannot afford to continue on this path.”

He added that:

“Delay in judicial processes has cost our economy dearly in terms of
much needed investment, as investors prefer other jurisdictions where
the progress of court cases is such more predictable and in accordance
with the rule of law. Being able to reverse this trend is largely
dependent on the efficiency and effectiveness of a justice system.

“Unfortunately, our justice system currently has a reputation for
delays, usually occasioned by a combination of endless adjournments,
incessant interlocutory applications and overwhelming caseloads. This
situation is a huge disincentive for businesses.

“It is not surprising, therefore, that Nigeria ranks near bottom on the
ease of doing business index. We are currently ranked 143 out of 189
countries by the World Bank Group’s Enforcing Contracts Indicator.

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“Delays in the trial process have damaged the international reputation
of the Nigerian Judiciary, even amongst its international peers.

“In pursuing its internal reforms, and without prejudice to the
recognition that should be given to the disposal of high profile cases,
the Judiciary must always remember that one of its key roles is the
promotion of equity and social justice, all persons are equal under the
law.

“Judicial reforms must take into consideration the need to clean up the
systems and processes in our magistrate and district courts and all
other lower courts across the country which handle matters involving th e
poor and the less-privileged.

“Together with the Police stations, these courts constitute the only
interface between the less-privileged  and the Justice system. Our
justice sector reforms must, therefore, seek to position and portray
these court as humane and efficient.

“I have to admit that reforming the current system must extend beyond
the judiciary and necessarily include reviewing laws, institutions,
processes and procedures that inhibit speedy justice delivery. We must
also re-orientate and improve the attitude of legal practitioners and
the legal profession in general.

“Judges must not be weak or appear to be weak in sanctioning lawyers and
litigants who deliberately stall and frustrate the judicial process.

“I have consistently declared that this administration is committed to
the rule of law and that no one will be related above the law of the
land. As the rich and powerful claim legal rights before the courts, we
must remember that the poor also deserve social and economic justice.

“This is why our government is determined to fulfil key planks of our
campaign promises, as they relate to the provision of social welfare
programs in aid of the poor.”

Vanguard

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